Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Business Development (page 3 of 95)

Be the first. Be the best. Be remarkable!

After reading this post, a reader emailed me to ask what made the designer I mentioned so remarkable. He said he wanted to know, so he could do the same and make his design business remarkable too. He explained that he needed to attract more high quality referrals.

The thing about being remarkable, is that it can’t be copied. If someone in your industry is doing something remarkable, and you copy their example, your copy isn’t remarkable. You’re in their shadow.

Allow me to explain.

A remarkable first

When Sir Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes, it was remarkable. When the next runner did it, breaking Bannister’s record, it wasn’t remarkable. The second guy was faster, but Bannister was remarkable, because he was the first person to reach that milestone of human achievement.

If you want to be remarkable, I’ve found that the best place to start, is to embrace the edges. I explain what that means here.

Bloggers: Why too few people read your blog and how to fix it!

marketing blogs

This is a very important post.

If you want to get more from your blog, you may find the following information extremely useful. It’s the answer to a question, sent to me by one of my readers, Shannon. As it’s an extremely common problem, I offered to answer Shannon’s question via this blog post.

With her permission, I’d like to share a key part of her email with you:

“I’ve been blogging for close on three years now and have found the results frustrating to say the very least! [...]  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong and I’ve followed the advice from (she mentioned a very well known blogging program) totally.  I’m just about ready to quit.  Can you take a look at my blog and tell me what I’m missing?”

I did take a quick look at her blog and it’s exactly the same as millions of other business blogs, following the same, general blogging advice.

Here’s what the challenge is and how to resolve it!

Blogging is exceptionally effective

I’ve worked in marketing since 1987 and nothing I have used, studied or witnessed, comes close to the marketing power of an effective blog. Period.

So, why has Shannon and the vast majority of business owners, seen such poor results?

Without doubt, the main reason is that blogging is often touted, incorrectly, as the written equivalent of painting by numbers. In other words, you follow a set of rules and success will follow. This myth persists because it’s repeated by affiliate marketers, selling generic guides and programs on how to grow a successful business blog.

The polar opposite is actually true. The closer you follow the same ineffective set of rules as everyone else, the less likely you are to get anything worthwhile from your blog.

Here’s how I built one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs, by avoiding the rules.

I found rules, then broke them

Here are just a few of the things I noticed on Shanon’s blog, which are extremely common on struggling blogs – along with why I decided not to do the same.

  • I didn’t SEO my posts. I wrote for my readers, not Google. This gave me the freedom to express my thoughts, rather than SEO my thoughts. Shannon’s blog posts are written using SEO software and it’s robbing her of her voice and individuality.
  • I didn’t guest blog. I focused on building my readership, by producing the most useful content I could and then made it extremely easy for people to share it. It works even better today than when I started in 2008, thanks to the popularity of social networking sites. However, many bloggers waste their best material on other people’s blogs, because their blog guru convinced them it’s a great idea. It’s one way to build your readership, but certainly not the best. Shannon told me that she has guest blogged a lot, with nothing to show for it.
  • I didn’t fill the blog with affiliate links. When I recommend something to a reader, it’s a genuine recommendation and I don’t get a penny for it. The trust of my reader community is worth far more to me, than affiliate money. Shannon’s blog home page has affiliate banners for a well known blog theme and (ironically) the content marketing program she’s following, along with 5 other products. Her posts also carry affiliate links for a predictable series of low value Internet marketing products.
  • I didn’t pump my posts with buzzwords. Disrupt, ruckus, intersection… these words fail twice. Firstly, they make informed people cringe. Secondly, they confuse the uninformed — not a great idea if you want people to understand your message! Shannon’s blog uses lots of Internet marketing buzz words. This, combined with the keyword loading she does for her SEO, means readers have no personality to connect with.

The key thing to remember, is that your blog has no chance of standing out, when it’s just like all the others. Make your blog your own. Do it your way. If you’re following a guide or using tips from popular blogging sites, you will find it hard to be seen.

I made 1 rule and stuck with it

I also made a rule, which I have stuck to since summer 2008. It’s simply this:

I will only publish a post when I have something useful to share and I’ll make sure I find something useful, often.

This means I often write when it’s easier not to. Blogging is a primary business activity for me, rather than something I fit in. As a result, I write when I’m extremely busy, when I am tired and even when I’m ill.

Your rules

The Internet is packed with sites that offer largely the same, general advice on how to build a successful blog.

The advice seems to make sense, until you consider that by following it, you become invisible – lost in an ocean of millions of other bloggers using the same, generic advice. If you’re following what they say, you will be able to identify with Shannon’s situation.

If you want your blog to get noticed and for your content to attract great readers and for your readership to grow, it’s essential to drop the generic approach.

In short: Your blog needs to be as individual as you are. Otherwise, you’re invisible.

Tip: This post asks an important question: Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

Here are some people that your business needs to avoid

There are certain people your business needs to avoid.

Some are easy to spot

Others are harder to spot

  • The strategist, whose own strategy isn’t working.
  • The social media expert, who used software to attract 100k followers, yet is clueless. Read this!
  • The accountant, who understands the numbers but can’t express what they mean to your business.
  • The PR person, whose own PR doesn’t create any buzz.
  • The business coach, who has never built a successful business.

Here’s the thing: With a slick website and some testimonials (fake or otherwise), anyone can claim to be anything.

So, before you hire the services of an expert, ask them to back up their claims in a way that is both meaningful and measurable.

Only when you are 100% satisfied with their credentials, should you consider investing in them.

Your business is telling you something. Are you listening?

now what

My good friend Jon emailed me this morning. He’d just used a new designer for a project and was so impressed with her work, that he wanted to show me what she did. He also said she was great to work with and recommended her to me.

Her work is indeed excellent and I passed her details to a contact of mine, who needs some work done.

Meanwhile…

All over the world, business owners will be getting up extra early. It’s the day they attend their weekly networking breakfast.

Here’s the thing:

  • If you have to attend networking events.
  • If you have to invest valuable time on Linkedin trying to generate leads.
  • If you have to pay referral fees or offer incentives for referrals.

… it’s time to listen to what your business is screaming at you! It’s telling you that your story isn’t compelling enough — that people can’t see enough value in what you do, to recommend you to their friends.

If your roof has a hole in it, placing a bucket below to catch the rain is not the solution. You need to repair the roof.

If your business isn’t attracting enough referrals, pushing an uninspiring story to more people is not the solution. You need to figure out why people are not talking about your business.

We have a choice

We can be like the designer I mentioned at the beginning, who is attracting high quality business leads because her service is worth talking about. Alternatively, we can push an uninspiring message, which too few people talk about.

If you’re tired (literally) of getting up ridiculously early, tired of wasting your time networking and tired of chasing people for referrals — stop chasing and start attracting.

Tip: Here’s one of the most important posts I have ever written. It explains how to make your business worth talking about!

Playing it safe is more dangerous than you think!

safety

People often talk about the cost of failure.

However, we seldom consider the huge price we pay, for avoiding failure. Here’s what this means for you and your business.

Fail safe?

I receive hundreds of emails every week, from 2 very different groups of business owners.

  1. Those who want me to help them grow their business.
  2. Those who want me to show them a fail safe, risk free way to grow their business.

The challenge with business owners in that second group, is that nothing in business of any value, comes with zero risk of failure. Their fail safe approach is actually the riskiest thing they can do.

The price you pay for playing it safe

By playing it safe, you:

  • Fail to get noticed. To get noticed you need to stand out, which is risky.
  • Fail to deliver exceptional work for your clients. To do exceptional work, you need to risk being different from the average provider. That’s risky.
  • Fail to be remembered. To be remembered, you need to risk doing something memorable.
  • Fail to attract word of mouth referrals. We only remark on a business when it does something remarkable. It’s risky to deviate from the norm.
  • Fail to attract the best clients. Only exceptional business owners attract the best clients and being exceptional is risky. What if people laugh at you or ignore you?
  • Fail to earn the most rewarding fees. It’s easy to quote for work, knowing your fee is around average. You risk losing quotes, if you quote what you’re worth.
  • Fail to work on the best projects. The best projects go to those who think outside the box… the mavericks. That’s riskier than doing average work.

Is that really the kind of safety you want?

Safe to fail

Instead of adopting a fail safe approach to business, maybe a safe to fail approach would serve you better?

No, I am not talking about deliberately setting out to do things wrong.

I’m talking about allowing yourself the freedom to step beyond average… to make mistakes occasionally, learn from them and improve. This is how all progress is made, yet very few small business owners embrace it. Instead, they keep on repeating the old, familiar, ineffective patterns — because it feels safe.

Overcoming the fear

If you find yourself working hard, for too small a reward, you are avoiding making at least one important decision, which you believe is too risky. The fact that you’re avoiding it, means the fear is winning.

Call the fear out. Look at the upside of making that decision. Ask yourself, what if it works?” Then, look at what’s happening right now, because you have been avoiding that decision.

If you want more of the same, do nothing. It’s your call!

Why offering free consultations can be an expensive mistake

alarm

I see a lot of struggling business owners, offering free initial consultations.

They give their time away like it’s of no value… like they are sat in a quiet office, with no clients and nothing to do. That’s a terrible impression to give to their marketplace.

Silencing the alarm doesn’t put out the fire

In other words, giving your time to strangers for free will not solve your marketing problem. It will not provide your business with the high quality leads you need.

  • It will generate interest from time wasters.
  • It will attract freebie hunters, who grab everything that’s offered for free and pay for nothing.
  • However, genuine prospective clients see free consultations as a warning sign. It tells them who to avoid, whose work is clearly not in demand. It repels the very people your business needs.

Never confuse activity with productivity. If you need more, high quality clients, improve your service and / or improve your marketing.

Social Media Marketing: A lesson from angry customers

Social networks

An unhappy customer today has enormous power. Think about it:

  • She can take her issue to Facebook or Twitter and tell 500 people how badly she was treated.
  • Some of those people will reshare her story, and within no time, 5000 people could be talking about it.
  • Then, some of those people will reshare her story too. Before you know it, 50000 or 100000 people could be sharing her story.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Same tools — different use

You see, the same tools that customers use to share their anger, can be used to share their delight.

So, make it a habit to go out of your way to delight your customers. Look for opportunities to leave them open-mouthed in happy amazement.

They already have the tools to tell the world how great you are. What they need from you, is a story worth sharing!

Tip: Here are some ideas and examples of how to delight your customers.

Internet Marketing: Aim for meaning, not traffic!

traffic

Would you like to turn your website or blog into a massively valuable asset for your business? If you just answered ‘yes’, it’s entirely possible you will need to change the way you think about Internet traffic or visitors and page views.

Allow me to explain.

The thing about traffic

Here’s what we know:

Internet Traffic doesn’t buy from you or hire you. No. It’s engaged people, who buy from you or hire you.

The challenge here, is that almost every blogger or small business owner is fixated on traffic. They have not yet figured out that 10 engaged readers, are of more value to their business, than 10000 people who only visited their site because of a click-bait headline or the latest, meaningless infographic.

As a result, we see people writing blog posts with titles like, “50 Magical Facts You Probably Never Knew About Marketing”, etc. People click the title, then leave. These bloggers then wonder why they get traffic, but no connection… no sales, business leads or subscribers. They think they have a conversion problem, when it’s their whole, traffic first approach, which is screwed.

In a nutshell: Sensationalist, keyword-weighted blog posts and articles attract clicks… not clients.

So, what is the answer?

Aim for meaning, rather than traffic!

Take a look at the titles below. They are the 10 most recent posts on Seth Godin’s blog – which is also the world’s most influential marketing site.

  1. There are Kracos.
  2. In search of meaningful.
  3. Most likely to succeed.
  4. The panda and the bicycle.
  5. Micro marketing and the called bluff.
  6. Worldview and stories.
  7. Even better than an app?
  8. Are you solving a problem or creating a problem?
  9. What if you could love what you get paid for?
  10. It’s not about you.

You will immediately notice that the titles are interesting, not sensational. They are honest titles, which treat his readers with respect. Paradoxically, the honesty of those titles makes them stand out among an ocean of click bait titles. And yes, the posts are always of value, which causes his readers to return and share his work with their friends.

What do you want from your site: Traffic or business?

It’s important to have goals for your website or blog, which are consistent with your business goals. For example, would 1000 more drive-by readers a day actually help your business in a meaningful way?

If what you really want from your site is a regular stream of high quality sales or client inquiries, stop trying to attract drive-by traffic with drive-by content.

Instead, aim to be useful and engaging. Showcase your expertise to your marketplace, by sharing valuable information in a compelling way. They will share your work with like-minded people, helping you reach more prospective clients or customers. Your readership will grow. You will be building a community or tribe, which increases in value all the time.

That’s where the value is — not chasing drive-by traffic!

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